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THE LAST WORD: Rab’s two pot plants have stuck with him through thick and thin

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I’d like to tell you about two companions, who have stuck by me through thick (“You’re certainly that, Rab”) and thin (“Not so much any more, mate”).

Other than the odd cheeky remark like these, they don’t say much. Indeed, they tend to keep themselves to themselves. But they are serene and long ago, I suspect, resigned themselves to accept their fate.

Doubtless, they’d have preferred someone a bit better organised, tidier and less prone to stomping aboot the hoose shouting about objects that “just disappear – they just disappear!” and toasters that “only have two settings – ‘Incinerate’ and ‘Cremate’!”

But they’re stuck with me and I with them. This is surprising, for I’ve a horror of commitment. I cannot remember acquiring these companions, but it must have been at least 12 years ago and, I suspect, considerably longer. I must have let my guard down.

Perhaps it was during the festive season and I’d inhaled a large Advocaat with lemonade. At any rate, I’m glad of my companions now, and even take a sporadic interest in their welfare.

For they are … two pot plants. Yes, imagine the responsibility! Me, with two lives (of sorts) in my care. Considering that I kill off nearly everything in the garden just by looking at it, it’s surprising that they’ve come through so much.

That’s included three or four flittings, which must have been as traumatic for them as they were for me. Every time, I say “Never again”, and a few years later we’re off once more.

Rab McNeil.

Then I have to find the right place in the new house to put them. I think the parlour palm (if that’s what it is) was a bit unhappy in this latest house at first. I put it in the living-room so it could watch the telly, but I don’t think it got enough light.

It’s not half the plant it used to be, but has perked up since being put in the kitchen, which is surprising as you’d have thought the aromas would have killed it or at least made it, as they do me, depressed.

The mother-in-law’s tongue, if you’re still allowed to say this, looks fine, I guess, though bits fall off it from time to time. I think it’s a succulent, so it only rarely wants water, which saves me some effort.

It’s difficult to know what they want. Recent reports suggest plants can hear and talk, though I think the former just means they sense vibrations, and the latter is a theory held by magazine columnists rather than properly qualified scientists.

I mustn’t over-egg my doings with the plants. They get watered, misted and fed with Baby Bio from time to time. I ask how they’re doing. They say: “So-so” or “Mustn’t grumble, though I could, like.”

I guess you could say they’re a bit downbeat. Never up for a party or dancing and, since neither am I, we get along fine.

They’ve outlasted several cars, toasters, beds and radios. I think they make the hoose a better, less sterile place. So I’ll carry on rooting for them, as I’m sure they will for me. For I’m the man with the watering can. I’m numero uno aroond here. Mother-in-law’s tongue: “He’s just a talking chimp.” Palm: “Cannae even make toast.”

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